It’s official – any player breaking ranks to join the Super Golf League will automatically lose PGA Tour membership for life.
The words of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan at a compulsory meeting this week of all players, ahead of this week’s Honda Classic.
After months of ‘who’s jumping ship’ or ‘what will happen if so-and-so leaves’, Monahan is fighting back issuing ultimatums to those rank-and-file PGA Tour players who may still be sitting on the fence with regards to the breakaway Super Golf League.
In speaking to Associated Press (AP), Monahan said following an already planned meeting of all players ahead of this week’s Honda Classic: “I told the players we’re moving on and anyone on the fence needs to make a decision.”
Monahan added the PGA Tour had “incredible momentum” coming off its West Coast swing. None of the top 12 players in the world expressed support for joining a Saudi league, a damaging blow to Greg Norman and his LIV Golf Investments. The endless chatter of a new league was louder than ever last week, centering on the possibility that Norman was on the verge of announcing a roster of 20 players.
“All this talk about the league and about money has been distracting to our players, our partners, and most importantly our fans,” Monahan said also in talking with AP.
“We’re focused on legacy, not leverage. You saw it last week with Joaquin Niemann winning, receiving the trophy from a legend (tournament host Tiger Woods) who inspired him to take up the game.
“Those moments can’t be replicated.”
This meeting at PGA National hosted by Monahan took place just minutes after Phil Mickelson issued a statement via his social media account apologising for his ‘reckless’ remarks about the Saudis and also wherein he praised Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Investments for sharing his goal of making golf better.
The two pages, six-paragraph statement on a black background did not mention the PGA Tour, nor did it refer directly to his controversial remarks as quoted in an upcoming book on Mickelson.
However, Monahan is reported by AP in declining to comment after being questioned if Mickelson could be fined and/or suspended over the comments.
And if Monahan was commenting, Mickelson’s language has not only shocked supporters of the now 51-year-old but also long-time corporate supporters as it did not take long for two of Mickelson’s biggest and long-time corporate backers to dump him, KPMG, a corporate partner with Mickelson since 2008, indicating there has been a mutual agreement on ending the endorsement contract immediately.
As well, Mickelson has been dropped by Amstel Light, who ended a partnership with the six-time major champion. AP said it had contacted Workday but the company had not responded to an email seeking comment.
Monahan said he thanked the many top players who showed their loyalty, though he didn’t feel as if the threat was over. McIlroy referred to it as “dead in the water” because none of golf’s top players were going.
“There is zero complacency here,” Monahan said. “We will continue to talk to the players and continue to listen.”
AP also said that according to those in the room for his meeting with the players, Monahan’s overall theme was about money — not only how much prize money was projected to grow on the PGA Tour over the length of the broadcast contracts, but how the Saudi league was being built only on money and how much it would take to cause a player to leave.
Indeed Shane Lowry, who attended the meeting, remarked: “People will think that an awful lot was probably said at the meeting judging by what’s been going on the last few weeks. but it was purely Jay letting everyone know how strong the tour is.
“We go through everything in those meetings every year – finances, the whole thing, where prize funds are, and any problems any players have they can ask any questions they want. It’s just a coincidence that it happened at this time with everything that’s been going on the last week or so.”
Though it was Monahan wrapping up his discussion with AP by stating: “I know where a lot of our athletes stand. That validation was incredibly impactful and gave us a renewed sense of optimism.”